Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Final British Polls Wrong on Result

One final poll shows the “leave” camp winning close, but it was an exception after a weekend of polls and betting markets that appeared to favor the “stay” camp. But voters said “leave” clearly by four percentage points (52% to 48%).

British polling has suffered another embarrassment after its failure to predict the Conservative Party majority vote in 2015.

The major impacts for the British people and world at large include:
  1. Cameron out. Immediate impact on the British and world economy from the withdrawal. Dow drops 600 points.
    • The British government falls. Cameron is out and a new prime minister in October.
  2. EU crisis. Europe loses its most powerful nation. Nationalist, anti-immigrant parties gather strength.
  3. Not “Great Britain.” Scotland, other parts of Britain may seek seceding votes.
  4. Good for the bear. The Atlantic and NATO alliances weakened. Russia wins from European disunion.
  5. Elites in trouble. British voters highlighted the divide in western developed societies. Immigration, national identity and sovereignty are top issues with British electorate (52% at least). The conflict brought down the government and similar divisions are rolling Western center-right and left politics throughout the Continent and U.S.
  6. Good for Donald, not for Hillary. Good news for Donald Trump and his anti-immigrant, nationalist campaign. He endorsed the “leave” side. Hillary Clinton represents the elite D.C./NY position. She is “stay” all the way.
See blogs:
Brexit: Leave the EU Closed the Gap
Will Britain Leave the EU?

Friday, June 17, 2016

WAPOR Paper Comparing Impact of Refugee and Immigration on European and U.S. Policy

Nationalism and nativism are sweeping European and U.S. politics in 2015 and 2016 and the result is likely to be significant. In a World Association of Public Opinion Research (WAPOR) panel on refugee politics, my paper compared key elements of the refugee and immigration events in 2015 and 2016 and their impact on the politics of the Continent and U.S.

Center-right and center-left ruling parties and politics are in disrepute on both continents. Immigration was the major factor in political upheaval in late 2015. In Europe, the crisis was caused by the volume of refugees and the sense the EU had no plan to resolve it. In the U.S., the lingering effect of no resolution of 11 million undocumented immigrants due to a gridlocked Congress was the biggest catalyst of voter anger. The circumstances on each continent offered a fertile environment for a highly impassioned debate on immigration, with nativist (policy of favoring native-born or established inhabitants over immigrants) arguments having the advantage.

The politics of 2016 and 2017 in the broadest sense are being altered due to immigration. Donald Trump’s nomination is a product of his immigration position more than any other factor. His anti-Mexican campaign rhetoric at his June announcement and his anti-Muslim position in November led to his dominance of the Republican field.

The E.U.’s open-border policy and Brussels’s general credibility have been undermined due to immigration issues. Nationalist and nativist parties and candidates are now the story. In Austria, a far-right candidate nearly won the presidency. In 2017, a host of center-right and center-left leaders and coalitions are on the defensive. Anti-immigrant politics is a deciding factor in the Brexit vote about to take place in Britain.

Brexit: Leave the EU Closed the Gap

In ten days, Britain may vote to leave the EU. The latest polls show the “leave” side with a 10 point lead. And the forecast polls averaging multiple polls are following, albeit more slowly.
Immigration and return of sovereignty appear to be the main reasons voters give to quit the EU.

Financial Times: How accurate are the Brexit polls?
Ah! Les sondages blog: To Brexit or not to Brexit…

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

AAPOR Panel Probes Foreign Policy Impact on 2016 Election

Foreign policy is going to be a key topic in the 2016 election was the consensus view of a panel of public opinion experts at the American Association of Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) national conference in Austin, Texas. The view was that the presumptive nominees, the influence of the foreign policy establishment, and the contrasting positions of their core constituents and their respective campaign strategies made foreign policy a prime topic for the conventions, the fall debates and voters’ November decisions.

My lead-off presentation made the following points:
  • Hillary Clinton believes her experience, temperament and positions will win an exchange on the issues. She is using foreign policy to highlight the contrast (see San Diego speech 6-2-16). Donald Trump, recognizing vulnerability but also seeing some advantage in voter preference, will hope to highlight his leadership style and populist views. 
  • Trump has added a host of foreign policy topics to the debate. Many of the subjects, such as alliance and trade policy, haven’t been debate topics in recent elections. Trade and globalization issues are now a part of the debate, with an unknown outcome, but major changes in January 2017 can be expected. 
  • Trump and Clinton have introduced several unexpected positions and interesting left-right shifts, especially on the level of interventionism and support for globalization. 
  • Trump’s challenge is that he is off-the-grid of Republican foreign policy thinking. It’s also an advantage – his constituents like it. They believe they have been harmed by globalization. It allows him to be politically incorrect and attack the Republican establishment. 
  • Republican grassroots opinion corresponds to many Trump views, especially concerning nationalistic and nativist viewpoints. But in general, public opinion has been reacting to, not leading, the debate. One exception was the spike in concern over terrorism after the Paris and San Bernardino attacks in November and December 2015, respectively. 
  • This election will be difficult to predict due to volatility and highly negative aspects of the campaigns and the candidates’ images. Foreign policy will be part of the mix. The issues and positions fought over may not have the same configuration in January 2017 as June 2016. Events and the campaigns may create new positions and divisions.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Hiroshima. Would We Drop the Bomb Today?

President Obama made a historic visit to the Peace Tower in Hiroshima, Japan, and spoke of the dangers of nuclear war in our era.
“Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known not as the dawn of atomic warfare but as the start of our own moral awakening.” (President Obama, 5-27-16)
Is there still a moral taboo against using nuclear weapons? Current signs are not good. Memories are fading and tensions are rising. Aggressive nationalism in Russia led President Putin to say he was willing to use nuclear weapons in his seizure of the Crimea. His military commanders discuss and prepare for their use on the European battlefield. North Korea is building as many weapons and delivery systems as it can afford, while China increases its supply and the U.S. upgrades its.

U.S. public opinion has also evolved from the view that opposed use of a nuclear bomb to their use now as an option acceptable to a large number of Americans under certain conditions.

In 1945, 53 percent of Americans believed President Truman made the right choice. By 2015, only 28 percent believed dropping the bomb was the right choice. But when public views of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing are framed by more recent war scenarios, Americans show themselves much more willing to consider use of nuclear weapons. One scenario proffered was that Iran kills thousands of American servicemen by sinking a carrier, and defeating Iran would cost an additional 20,000 American troops. In that scenario, 59 percent of Americans would be willing to drop a nuclear weapon on a city of 100,000 civilians to achieve surrender. (81% Republicans, 47% Democrats).

Reduction of nuclear stockpiles and non-proliferation were among Obama’s top goals. Outside of his agreement with Iran, it has been one of his biggest disappointments.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Austrian Election Highlights Nationalism Driving European Politics

Like the U.S. presidential election, European politics is being driven by a strong trend of national sovereignty and anti-immigrant sentiment. The May Austrian presidential election made clear the weakness of the center parties noticeable throughout Europe and the rise of anti-immigrant, anti-EU/Brussels political parties. The Austrian left, with a Green presidential candidate, beat the far-right candidate by less than one percent of the vote.

The election was characterized by many of the elements of the U.S. presidential election:

  • The tone was less civil
  • Many comments and positions would have been highly incorrect just a few years ago

A quick scan of the 2016-2017 election cycle in Europe makes clear momentum, if not majorities, is running with the right. The EU and open borders are on the defensive.

  • In France, President Hollande has barely 30 percent approval and the National Front appears competitive in the 2017 national elections. 
  • Germany’s Chancellor Merkel still holds her right, and the left parties, as of yet, do not appear to have a strategy to win a national election – but she and her party are clearly on the defensive. Merkel’s future is in question.
  • Nationalistic forces in a host of countries (Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden and Great Britain) are threatening center- right and left governments. In Poland and Hungary, they now control the government. 

Will Britain Leave the EU?

On June 23, British voters will decide to leave or stay in the EU. Polling forecasts have the stay forces slightly ahead, but it is expected to be close and final campaigning is intense.

Prime Minister David Cameron had to schedule a referendum as his parliamentary majority is narrow and his own party is strongly divided by the issue. If Britain votes to separate from the EU, not only will the decision begin a costly and undefined process, but the implications are significant well beyond the immediate effect.

  • The vote will confirm and reinforce the nationalist and nativist trends sweeping the developed world today from Poland to France, Great Britain and the U.S. 
  • If the UK votes to leave the EU, Scotland, which prefers the continental relationship, may schedule another vote to leave the UK. Scottish nationalists now control the region’s politics and governance and many are simply waiting for an excuse for another vote of separation. 
  • The 70-year European and U.S. strategy of alliance will be weakened and NATO further endangered. It is already suffering from the neglect and forces supporting disunion.